Legionnaire’s Disease – What Letting Agents Need To Know

By law, landlords and letting agents are required to assess the risk of, and, if necessary, combat Legionnaires Disease.

The first line of defence is to carry out a Legionella risk assessment, which helps to identify the presence of Legionella, the bacteria that causes the disease.

What is Legionnaires Disease?

Legionnaires Disease is fatal in up to one in three cases. It’s caused by the bacteria known as Legionella, and is a pneumonia-like illness. It normally thrives in water that is at the right temperature for bacteria to grow, e.g. rivers and lakes – but this also means it can spread through hot and cold domestic water systems.

As such, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a code of best practice for landlords in order to reduce the percentage of risk. This code includes:

  • The requirement of landlords to carry out, whether by themselve
  • The requirement of landlords to take action on this assessment if any problems are found.
  • Where is Legionella likely to be found?

  • In water at a constant temperature between 20 and 45 degrees.
  • Disused or rarely used showers and taps, where rust and scale can be commonplace.
  • In areas of a water system where the liquid is stagnant for extended periods of time.
  • It’s also important to note that older tenants as well as those with weakened immune systems are at particularly higher risk to the disease.

    Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are of greater risk than the average domestic property.

    Who is responsible?

    Ultimately it is the responsibility of the property manager to meet the legal requirement of minimising the risk of exposure.

    This means that if the property is fully managed by an agent, this falls into their umbrella of responsibility.

    It’s recommended that the manager of the property compiles a risk assessment for Legionella every 12 months minimise the risk of exposure.

    Who can carry out a Legionella risk assessment?

    Landlords and letting agents can legally carry out an assessment, if they feel able to compile one to the required standard. In general, they should:

  • Have at least a basic understanding of the bacteria and how some conditions may encourage the risk of an outbreak.
  • Be aware of basic control measures, which will reduce the likelihood of a breakout.
  • Have at least a basic understanding of different types of water systems.
  • We’ve added a new template to our Inspector property inventory app that allows both landlords and letting agents to compile comprehensive risk assessments quickly and easily.

    For a free demo, click here to get in touch. If you’re already a user, simply reach out to your account manager and they’ll be able to help you get the new template onto your system.

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